CMS Superintendent had good days, bad days during his first 100 days

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox is celebrating his first 100 days in office. He says he has learned so much about the district, things he is just now realizing.

"Just how many initiatives was taking place within the system and the difficulty the system was having managing all those different initiatives," CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said.

Wilcox says during his 100 days he has experienced good days and bad days. He says his good days outweigh his bad days.

He calls good days when he goes to schools and sees teaching and learning happening and students engaged. His bad days include fights at schools, students being victims to crime and buses catching on fire.

Recently two CMS buses caught fire within a month of each other. The school district launched an investigation.

"We still don't have a final decision," Wilcox said. "We had a lot of people looking at them."

The superintendent says there could be some changes with how the district maintains its buses. One bus that caught fire had an oily engine. No word if it was cleaned before hitting the roads.

"If there was a combustion within the engine compartment, it had something to fuel," Wilcox said. "So we knew we would probably be thinking about steam cleaning our engines on a regular basis."

CMS says the person in charge of bus maintenance is on leave of absence. The superintendent says that person could be retiring soon. Wilcox says the district could outsource that position.

The superintendent is also responding to multiple fights that happened at West Mecklenburg High School recently. Wilcox says he has seen the video of students punching one another.

"Kids come on to campuses and they bring their frustration and hostility they grow up with," he said.

Wilcox explained the possible reason for the multiple fights.

"My understanding is that these young people had been at Turning Point Alternative School and almost immediately decided to settle some old scores," Wilcox said.

The superintendent says he is pleased with the progress West Mecklenburg High School is making and hopes those fights will not interfere with that.

Wilcox says he has visited about 60 CMS schools since he has been in office. He says during those visits he has witnessed some inequities. Some high schools offer many advanced courses while other schools offer little.

"I do know you should have access to the same class and I think we need to do a better job of doing that," Wilcox said.

Wilcox admits offering the same classes at every school is not the answer, but the district needs to make sure CMS is offering the same resources other students have access to. If those resources are in place students can succeed.

"Do we have opportunities for kids to get tutoring," the superintendent said. There are some kids in the community they can just go down to Sylvan learning or somewhere else because mom and dad can write a check. Some of our kids can't. If we offer that class, we've got to make sure we can offer tutoring for those kids," Wilcox said.

The superintendent is also working to make sure academic achievement happens for all students. His team is working on developing solutions.

"It's not something that we as a school system can do alone and I am not shirking my responsibility. This community, as every large city has to do, has to come together," Wilcox said.

The question was asked what has the superintendent accomplished in his first 100 days in office.

"It's probably too early to start having conversations about accomplishments," Wilcox said. "I hope what I have tried to do and I hope what has been perceived what I have done. I am available. I am open and transparent. I am honest with people."

The superintendent is also busy reorganizing his executive team.  He says he is not sure what that will look like so CMS can be efficient. He says he will talk soon to senior staff who were offered only a one year contract.

"I am not at a place right now where I would say to any one person, this isn't working," Wilcox said.

My sense is I probably owe a conversation to a lot of people in late February, early March time frame," he added.

Wilcox says he is happy with CMS and believes the district will only get better with time.

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